Seasonal Pantry: Shop the farmers market, not the list
The Healdsburg Farmers Market opened last Saturday morning, with the sounding of its signature cowbell at 9 a.m. heralding not just the opening of the year’s inaugural market itself but also celebrating spring’s delicate harvest. Before long, summer crops will come tumbling in. For now, it is time to enjoy the season’s fleeting pleasures, including local asparagus, green garlic, garlic scapes, spring onions, fresh fava beans, delicate French breakfast radishes, early strawberries, rhubarb, and the year’s first cherries.
This market has a number of vendors who sell only here and discovering what they have is part of the joy of attending weekly.
The best way to explore a farmers market is without a shopping list. There are, of course, times when you are looking for something specific. But when you’re simply gathering foods for upcoming meals, you should decide what to cook either at the market or after you get home from the market, not before you go.
When you get into this way of doing things, the seasons start to speak to you in a manner they don’t when you have the sort of focused vision triggered by a shopping list.
If you’re new to shopping regularly at farmers markets and farm stands, there can be a bit of adjustment. You might, say, get potatoes, onions, cabbage, and garlic at the market, then swing by a grocery store because you think you need tomatoes, too, and maybe have a crazing for melon. But if you wait until these items are offered at your local market, everything will taste much better and you’ll end up eating a more diverse diet.
You can use this recipe as a template for grilling a variety of spring foods, including asparagus, fava beans, small artichokes and more. The important thing is to have a hot fire and to lubricate whatever you are grilling with just a bit of olive oil. Don’t use a premium or ultra-premium olive oil for this step, as you are simply lubricating and assisting with the transfer of heat, not adding flavor. Condiment suggestions follow the main recipe. You’ll often see grilled scallions at taquerias and other Mexican restaurants, but they are easy to make at home and can be a side dish with almost anything. Sometimes, especially on a hot night, they make a great meal with nothing more than rice and more salsa alongside.
Grilled Scallions with Radish Salsa
Makes 4 to 6 servings
— Radish Salsa, recipe follows
2 bunches scallions, rinsed and trimmed
— Olive oil
— Kosher salt
Build a fire in an outdoor grill or set a grill or grill pan over high heat. While waiting for the fire or the grill to heat, make the salsa and set it aside.
Put the cleaned scallions on a baking sheet, drizzle with just a bit of olive oil, and toss the scallions to coat them. Season lightly with salt.
Set on the grill in a single layer and cook until they are softened and have begun to pick up some color. Use tongs to turn them over and grill until fully tender.
Transfer to a serving plate, spoon salsa over the scallions and enjoy right away.
Condiment suggestions: black olive tapenade or freshly made romesco sauce with grilled spring onions; simple garlic vinaigrette with grilled green garlic or garlic scapes; mustard vinaigrette or aioli with grilled asparagus; Maldon sea salt and little lemon wedges with grilled fava pods; garlic butter with grilled artichokes